The weekend came around, and my former host parents found themselves with an American to entertain, their daughters both back in Toulouse taking final exams. So, we hopped in the car and took to the hills of the northwest Tarn. The arrondissement of Albi is dotted with ancient ruins, and the first stop on our trip was the Commanderie de Vaour, founded by the Knights Templar in 1140. Despite its old age, it remains a fantastic relic of feudal France, its history preserved in its gray limestone bricks. We were lucky to be the only ones there to wander around the site, and supposedly in the 12th and 13th centuries, the commandery itself only hosted a dozen or so knights at any one time, serving as an agricultural center in the region as opposed to artillery stronghold.
Moving on through the Vallée de l’Aveyron et de la Vère, we stopped at nearly ever village that we passed:
Penne, whose rocky mountaintop fortress was striking in the distance;
Bruniquel, where we climbed steep staircases to reach its medieval castel;
Puycelci, who was as scenic on the drive up as it was from the top, looking over the Vère;
Filets de rougets marinés à la betterave et au gingembre, arame, concombres et radis en salade.
Goatfish filets marinated in beetroot and ginger, and a salad of kelp, cucumber and radish.
Filet de flétan, jus aux asperges et piment d’espelette, fèves, carottes, petits pois et asperges.
Halibut filet in asparagus and espelette pepper sauce, with fava beans, carrots, peas and asparagus.
And the best part? There are hundreds of tiny villages still to explore in the Tarn! Ce n’est qu’un début! En outre, I absolutely must visit Milhars, not only to step foot in a town whose name is nearly my own, but also to find out what on earth these “rural families” are selling at the expo vente!! Il faut que j’y aille tout de suite!